[Ip-health] EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan issues statement on European Union compulsory licensing in context of COVID-19, makes important statement about TRIPS Article 31bis

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Wed Jun 3 14:02:02 PDT 2020


https://www.keionline.org/33284

EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan issues statement on European Union
compulsory licensing in context of COVID-19, makes important statement
about TRIPS Article 31bis

Posted on June 3, 2020 <https://www.keionline.org/33284> by Thiru
<https://www.keionline.org/author/thiru>

On 14 May 2020, Bernd Lange, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee
on International Trade (INTA) wrote a letter
<https://www.keionline.org/https://www.europarl.europa.eu/cmsdata/207560/D(2020)15256_Lange%20to%20Commissioner%20Hogan%20on%20IPR-1.pdf>
to
Phil Hogan (Commissioner for Trade, European Commission) on the “commercial
aspects of intellectual property rights for medical products in the context
of COVID-19.” Lange’s letter to Commissioner Hogan raised several questions
concerning trade rules, compulsory licensing, data exclusivity, and trade
secrets in the COVID-19 response.

MEP Lange addressed the following questions to Commissioner Hogan in
relation to the European Union’s decision to opt-out of a mechanism in the
World Trade Organization (WTO) rules on patents designed to enable WTO
members to import drugs, vaccines or diagnostic tests manufactured under a
compulsory license in another country. For more context, please see:
https://www.keionline.org/32707

Lange asked:

“The same questions also affect the EU’s and Member States’ ability to
import a future cure, a vaccine or other needed medicines produced abroad,
should efforts for finding a voluntary licensing agreement fail. While
stepping up production capacities in Europe is key, all options to ensuring
the adequate availability of needed pharmaceuticals should be on the table.
The EU and many Member Staves have partially limited their ability to make
use of compulsory licensing by opting-out of the system established under
the 30 August 2003 Decision of the WTO. Could you elaborate on the current
tools available to the EU in this context?”

On 26 May 2020, Commissioner Hogan provided the following response
<https://www.politico.eu/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Van-Brempt-2.pdf>.

With regard to the question concerning the EU’s and Member States’ ability
to import a future cure, vaccine or other needed medicines produced abroad,
I would like to note that the EU remains one of the leading regions in the
world with a large-scale pharmaceutical manufacturing capacity, in
particular for vaccine production. At the moment, due to the fact that the
EU has a substantial innovative pharmaceutical industry, a large number of
countries look up to the EU as a potential source of supply for a possible
cure or future accine. However, the Commission is also very well aware of
the discussion on upscaling production and the complex global supply
structure of medicinal products. The Commission is monitoring the situation
carefully, in close contact with Member States, and it will not hesitate to
take the necessary action if if the need arises, also as regards the EU’s
non-importer status under Article 31 bis of the TRIPS Agreement.

Commissioner Hogan’s response to the European Parliament leaves the door
open to revisiting the EU’s decision to opt-out of Article 31bis of the WTO
TRIPS Agreement as an importer. This is significant because there has been
a debate on whether or not WTO members that initially opted-out as
importing members can ever change their minds. At least in this
communication, Hogan has indicated that changing the status is on the
table, and this will have political consequence in any subsequent WTO
decision.


-- 
Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org


More information about the Ip-health mailing list